Thursday, January 10, 2008

Growing audience and opportunity

Five presidential primary races so far, five different winners.* Record voter participation. An open field, a perilous world, an imploding economy.

Rhetoric ratcheting, knives being sharpened for races yet to unfold.

This is good news for us, cousins. If we can’t practice value-added, public service journalism in this context, when will we?

We need to bring our A game, serving the growing audience appetite for campaign news with everything from concise statistical data to unique overview and insight. You need to be thinking about this when you design A-1 and whenever your website updates breaking news.

It’s a bit late to be retuning coverage plans, but you can’t go far wrong by ensuring that whatever you do is the result of explicit, conscious thought. Don’t run things because you “ought to.” Eschew the formulaic and obvious. Reject the simpleminded, the facile, the unattributed and the clich├ęd.

Our Washington staff is working hard to provide journalism that goes well beyond the conventional; if they’re not meeting your needs, by all means talk that over with them, or me. Draw on all our resources, from Dave Barry and the alt.campaign coverage to MCT graphics and timelines. Flag the coverage you’re producing for inclusion on the wire and the bureau homepage.

People who find satisfaction with our political coverage will be far more likely to stick around for other journalism. Let’s focus and work hard to do the best possible job for them right now.

* Iowa (Huckabee, Obama); N.H. (McCain, Clinton); Wyoming (Romney).

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